Sunday, March 27, 2011

Up With The Sun On The Last Sunday Of March Thinking About Being In A Dallas Jail

I stepped outside to take a picture of the outside view at about the same time the sun started to arrive on this last Sunday of March of 2011.

Now that the sun has done its daily illuminating duty I can see we are under a bit of a cloud cover.

I do not believe any rain has fallen, so we are still on course for a record breaking lack of rain for a March in North Texas.

Rain is in the forecast for the next several days. It won't take much, only .01 to tie the 1926 March rain total.

I think I have previously mentioned that the Dallas Morning News online has gotten very annoying. Not satisfied with generating revenue via ads, the DMN online now only gives limited access, unless you pay a monthly fee.

This morning on the Dallas Morning News this headline caught my eye...

"Three years since being declared innocent, mans waits for ruling to set him free"

I clicked on the link and was able to read this....

"Three years have passed since State District Judge Rick Magnis found that Ben Spencer was innocent of a March 1987 deadly robbery in West Dallas. But Spencer, 46, still sits behind bars because the Court of Criminal Appeals hasn’t ruled on the judge’s recommendation that his conviction and life sentence...."

Before I came to this....

"Get Subscriber Content access to read this story."

I would think that the Dallas Morning News webstats are likely way down, which likely has led to a big drop in their online ad revenue.

I think it is time to go swimming now.


Anonymous said...

Are they doing anythiung for this man?

Steve A said...

If it wasn't Texas, I'd find it hard to believe any court would leave a possibly innocent man in jail for three years without action.

Durango said...

Anonymous, I don't know what's being done to help this latest victim of Texas justice. The Dallas Morning News wouldn't let me read the news.

Anonymous said...

Editorial: Appeals court review overdue in Ben Spencer case

Published 28 March 2011 04:30 PM
So it is for Texas prison inmate Ben Spencer, whose case has languished in Austin as if it didn’t exist.
Spencer is not just another lifer with an angle. He has a state district court judge’s ruling that cleared him in the 1987 robbery-murder of businessman Jeffrey Young in Dallas. Judge Rick Magnis ruled “actual innocence” and recommended a new trial.
A fresh examination of the case focused on eyewitness credibility, and that persuaded Magnis in 2008 to conclude Spencer didn’t do the crime. That was — count ’em — three years ago.
Yet, as Dallas Morning News staff writer Jennifer Emily reported Sunday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has yet to take up the case. Spencer, 46, has now spent 24 years in prison.
How many ways are there to say outrageous?
One unlikely opponent is the same Dallas County District Attorney’s Office that has gone to bat for so many others whose cases began stinking up the justice system.
DA Craig Watkins’ office isn’t sold on Spencer’s innocence and prefers to stick by eyewitnesses who fingered him as the killer.
Fair enough. But why not give Spencer the new day in court?
Plus, as Watkins knows well through his work looking into claims of innocence from state prisoners, erroneous eyewitness ID has been exposed as the No. 1 cause of wrongful convictions. It’s not a matter of debate. DNA tests have cleared 21 people convicted in Dallas County — no other U.S. county has those kinds of statistics — and one thing the cases have in common is eyewitness ID at the heart of the prosecution.
The unreliability of eyewitness testimony has become so obvious that Watkins jumped on the bandwagon of support for state lawmakers who have been pushing to set standards for police ID procedures.
“If we are successful getting this piece of legislation passed,” Watkins said in a news release earlier this year, the law would ensure “more reliable and untainted eyewitness identification.”
So which is it, Mr. DA? Why isn’t there enough doubt to justify a retrial of murder charges against Spencer?
But let’s be clear: The next move in the case belongs to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. It could take up the Spencer case any time, then either sweep aside the judge’s decision or send the case back to Dallas County for retrial.
For some unexplained reason the court chooses to take its sweet time. The judges may have reasoned that a little more time won’t matter, since Spencer isn’t going anywhere. That last point is one the appeals court appears to have gotten right.

The Ben Spencer case
March 1987: Jeffrey Young is killed in a robbery outside his West Dallas office. Ben Spencer and another man, Robert Mitchell, are arrested and charged.
October 1987: Spencer gets a 35-year sentence on a murder conviction. It was later overturned because a witness did not disclose she received reward money from Crime Stoppers.
March 1988: Spencer is sentenced to life in prison at a second trial after being convicted of aggravated robbery.
2000: Jim McCloskey of Centurion Ministries, a prisoner advocacy group, and attorney Cheryl Wattley begin working on Spencer’s case.
2003: Mitchell, whom Spencer’s attorney also believes was innocent, is paroled and dies of a heart attack four months later.
July 2007: State District Judge Rick Magnis holds a hearing about claims of “actual innocence” in Spencer’s case.
March 2008: Magnis rules “actual innocence” in Spencer’s case.